Is The Featherweight Division The Best In Boxing?
by John Freund
Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz just weighed in for their upcoming bout tomorrow night at MGM’s Grand Arena in Las Vegas. Both fighters matched the 126-pound weight limit, and both looked determined as they met face-to-face for the final time before their much anticipated rematch.
If Frampton should win this fight, he will likely be crowned the king of the Featherweights, having then defeated 3-division world champion Santa Cruz twice. That would catapult him to the top of what is rapidly being considered boxing’s most competitive weight class. Aside from Frampton and Santa Cruz, prominent Featherweights include Gary Russell Jr., Abner Mares, Jesus Cuellar – whom Mares defeated in his last fight, and hard-hitting Oscar Valdez. And let’s not forget about Lee Selby, who is defending his IBF title against former world champ Jonathan Barros on the undercard. Frampton has already declared that should he win his fight against Santa Cruz, he wants to unify the titles in his hometown of Belfast against Selby this summer.
“I just want to be involved in big fights,” Frampton said. “I’m 30 in February. It’s not like I have years and years left, so I want them to all be big fights now. And Selby is a big fight.”
Indeed, should the two UK superstars square-off, it could mean one of Britain’s biggest fights ever, outside of the Heavyweight division. For the Welsh-born Selby, a win against The Ring’s 2016 ‘Fighter of the Year’ honoree Frampton would provide a catapult to superstardom, should he defeat the Irishman in front of his hometown fans.
“He (Frampton) had the stand-out fight with Santa Cruz last year,” Selby told The Telegraph. “It changed his profile overnight. That’s what I’m looking for, that one stand-out fight. I think mine could be against Carl Frampton.”
For that to happen, both men need to be victorious tomorrow night; no small feat for either fighter. Although he is heavily favored, Selby faces a very dangerous opponent in former champion Barros, who has a ton of experience, this being his 47th fight. And Frampton will of course have his hands full during the rematch with Santa Cruz. Should the Mexican-American star regain his title, odds are he and Frampton will square off for a third time, in what could mean another epic boxing trilogy alongside the likes of Barrera-Morales, and Gatti-Ward.
Boxing fans not already prone to rooting for either fighter actually have a tough call tomorrow night. Whom to root for? Frampton-Selby this summer would be epic, but then again so would Frampton-Santa Cruz III.
Hey, with all of the PR trouble the sport has seen recently, it’s nice to know there’s at least one division that doesn’t need heating up… because it’s already red hot. Tomorrow night we’ll find out just how competitive the Featherweight division really is.